MIAMI, FL - JUNE 05: (L-R) Kevin Garnett #5 and Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics celebrate a play in the second half against Miami Heat in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs on June 5, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
The bulk of the journey is behind the Boston Celtics, at least when it comes to their Eastern Conference Finals series with the Miami Heat, but make no mistake, there's still work to be done to get to the Finals.
Amazing, isn't it? Eighteen games into the playoffs, and your Boston Celtics are sitting pretty. Better than pretty, actually. They're one win away from the NBA Finals.
After everything this group has gone though together -- the initial championship run, coming within one quarter of another title and rebounding from a poor start this season to shock the world again -- it's really gratifying to see the Celtics on the brink of getting back to the place they belong.
Let's not get a head of ourselves, though. For now, that's exactly where they are -- on the brink. Boston hasn't eliminated Miami yet. Best of seven, remember? They still need another more win.
The first three wins were tough enough, and you can guarantee that the last one won't come easily. As well as the Celtics have played against the Heat, it is unrealistic to expect them to roll over and die in Game 6 on Thursday night at TD Garden. Miami is going to fight. Count on it.
However, in order to do so, the Heat will need to take a little of LeBron James' advice.
"We've just got to come out with a sense of urgency," James said after Game 4. "Like I said, the last two games, we've come in and they've hit us hard. We've been down and it's been an uphill battle the first two-and-a-half quarters. If we come in with a sense of urgency, we understand what it takes to win but no one said it was easy. This is great. This is what the postseason is all about. It's about adversity and ups and downs. You never get too high and you never get too low."
LeBron's advice did not go unheeded, as Miami stormed out to a big lead in the first half of Game 5, but the savvy group of veterans in green just kept working and were ultimately able to erase the Heat lead and end the game with one of their own, 94-90, resulting in a 3-2 series advantage.
Boston's win was the result of, among other things, another dominant performance from Kevin Garnett (26 points, 11 rebounds), as well as a few big threes from Mickael Pietrus and a big trey from Paul Pierce with the game on the line. Oh, and who could forget Rajon Rondo's passing?
None of this is written to spite the Celtics or their accomplishments. Heck, this run has been downright incredible. Did you ever think that this year's version of the 17-time world champions would be playing into June? I certainly didn't. They truly deserve a ton of respect for their success.
Still, they can't take Game 6 for granted. If they do, there's a strong chance they will lose, and then everything that they have fought so hard for in the last three games will all be for naught. Sure, the Celtics could still win the series in seven, but the odds of a Boston victory decrease significantly.
Boston has a fight ahead, and they know it. Miami is on life support, but it's still very much alive.